Avengers: Age of Ultron in Imax Laser/12.1 vs Christie Lamp/Dolby Atmos - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 51 Old 05-07-2015, 09:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Avengers: Age of Ultron in Imax Laser/12.1 vs Christie Lamp/Dolby Atmos



Would you sit through this movie twice in one day to compare two different projection and sound systems? I did, and here's what I found.

I was looking forward to seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron at the TCL Chinese Theatres Imax auditorium, one of four worldwide locations with the new Imax laser-illuminated projection (LIP) system that I wrote about here and here. However, it was not originally scheduled to play in that theater, probably because it was booked at the El Capitan directly across Hollywood Blvd.

Then, the head projectionist at the TCL Chinese texted me that the movie would be played in the Imax room for the first five days of its run, perhaps because the El Capitan was selling out so fast. Regardless of the reason, I decided it was a good opportunity to compare the two systems—a single lamp-based digital-cinema projector and Dolby Atmos sound at the El Capitan and the Imax dual-projector laser-illuminated system and 12.1-channel immersive sound—simply by walking across the street. So I bought two tickets and headed down to Hollywood last Tuesday.

I won't say much about the movie itself, except that I thought the story is typical of the genre—as fellow industry journalist Mike Heiss said to me, "It gives stupid a bad name!" I didn't think it was quite that bad, probably because I enjoy all the quips and one-liners in the Avengers movies. Also, I really enjoyed James Spader's voicing of Ultron and Paul Bettany as Tony Stark's AI assistant Jarvis. As expected, the entire movie is way over the top in terms of special effects—after all, each of these big blockbusters must outdo the previous one, which often leads me to wonder how far they can ultimately go.

As with other Avenger movies, this one is playing at some locations in 3D, which was added in post-production. I thought the use of 3D was very good overall, but each presentation had problems that I'll discuss below.


The Disney-owned El Capitan is one of the last remaining Hollywood movie palaces—with a snazzy LED marquee.

First up was the El Capitan, which currently has a Christie CP2230 lamp-based projector with a RealD XL polarizer for 3D and a Dolby Atmos sound system. (This theater is scheduled to get a dual-projector Dolby Vision LIP setup in time for Tomorrowland on May 22.) The screen measures 45x22 feet, but unfortunately, the seating is not stadium-style, so if you're on the main floor (as I was), you're looking up at the screen—not good. Also, the seats are rather shabby, and the floors are very sticky—really not good for the VIP section, where tickets are $26! (That does get you a drink and popcorn, but you can't opt out of the treats for a lower price.) I was surprised that the theater was almost empty for the 4:00 PM show.


The Dolby Atmos overhead speakers in the El Capitan are hung from trusses that don't really go with the otherwise ornate decor—but you don't see them in the dark.

As expected, the 3D image was pretty dim, as all single-projector RealD presentations are. And the black level was fairly high, even through the light-robbing 3D glasses. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack was quite immersive, with lots of activity in the overhead speakers. And of course, it was very loud—94.0 dBC Leq, 112 dBC Lmax, 97 dBC L10, 78 dBC L50, 66 dBC L90. Also, there were lots of very quiet moments, so I ended up not wearing my earplugs and tightly closing my ears with my fingers during the loud parts.


Imax laser-illuminated projection is highly touted in the signage outside the TCL Chinese Theatre.

After a break to get a bite at the Hollywood & Highland shopping complex across the street from the El Capitan and next to the TCL Chinese, it was time for round two. The Imax screen is about four times larger than the El Capitan's—90x45 feet—and I sat in roughly the same location relative to the screen. Fortunately, with stadium seating, I wasn't looking up at the screen this time.

I had high hopes for the Imax LIP and 12.1-channel immersive sound, though I was concerned that Imax LIPs use 6P (6-primary) spectrum separation for 3D, which is essentially the same as Dolby 3D using different wavelengths for red, green, and blue. My concern was justified when I put on the glasses, whose lenses have mirror-like surfaces, causing light to reflect between the inner surface of the 3D glasses and the outer surface of my prescription glasses. The result is that I see multiple ghostly reflections and a slightly milky cast to the image, especially around the edges, which I find highly distracting.

This should not be a problem for those who don't wear prescription glasses, and I've heard others who do wear them say it isn't so bad, but it's a major drawback for me. On the plus side, the image was much brighter while the blacks were deeper than the single-projector RealD image I saw earlier.

I thought the soundtrack was not as immersive as it had been earlier in Dolby Atmos. The Imax 12.1 system is channel-based, not object-based, with four speakers on the ceiling and one speaker array high up on each side wall. I didn't sense the sound from overhead as much, though the side-height speakers got a good workout. Volume-wise, it was a bit louder than at the El Capitan—95.0 dBC Leq, 115 dBC Lmax, 99 dBC L10, 89 dBC L50, 69 dBC L90. Interestingly, I found the dialog intelligibility to be much worse in the Imax presentation compared with the El Capitan, which also detracted from my enjoyment. This could have been at least partly due to the sub-optimal acoustics in that room. Fortunately, I already knew what was going on from the previous screening.


The Imax immersive-sound system includes four speakers on the ceiling. They are difficult to see among the highly ornate decor, so I've circled them in this shot.

By far the best images I saw that day were in a 7-minute clip from Tomorrowland played in the Imax theater—in 2D. Blacks were really deep, and the extended contrast really made the image pop. I was hoping the release would be in 2D, but my online research indicates it's 3D in some theaters, which probably includes the Dolby Cinema and Imax LIP locations. That makes sense, since both systems tout their 3D capabilities, but it's a major disappointment to me. Still, I will certainly see it at the AMC Burbank 16 Prime with Dolby Vision HDR—not the El Capitan because of the poor seating and outrageous prices for "good" seats—and I might see it again at the TCL Chinese Imax to compare the two LIP systems. Fun, fun, fun!

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post #2 of 51 Old 05-07-2015, 10:16 PM
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So very sorry for you, having to endure the pain you did for 5 hours of your life that you'll never get back, but a very good read!
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post #3 of 51 Old 05-07-2015, 10:52 PM
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I saw the movie in two theaters as well one was IMAX 3D and the other Dolby Atmos. IMAX has lost a lot of it's panache for me this was at a "Rave" theater here in the midwest and the picture was dim, being a former manager/projectionist I'd hope the days of saving blub life had gone away. Sound was ok there was one moment during the film which had a major sound "event" other than that it was not what I would call loud for a action movie. The second theater was Emagine Entertainment theater oodly they only ran the Dolby Atmos version at 10:00am or 5:00pm but at $6 it was a real bargain! Dolby sound was very enjoyable, it was my first time hearing it on recommendation of Scott. The preview of Batman V. Superman was epic! among the best sound I've heard just on that demo alone I want to upgrade my system. Although the Dolby Atmos theater is a hour round trip for me it wins hands down over IMAX it's Dolby Atmos for me. Avengers Age of Ultron was very good, I feel it leads up very well to Captain America Civil War next year. Now if I can just find some Atmos speakers to go with my KEF Q900's I'll be set.

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post #4 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 01:19 AM
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I look forward to your Dolby Vision HDR review.
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post #5 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 06:16 AM
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post #6 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 06:33 AM
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Scott, thanks for taking one for the team. Twice in one day is above and beyond.

I avoid 3D presentations because of the prescription glasses problem you mentioned plus it's just too dark for my old eyes.

I saw this film in 2D in a brand new Marcus Ultrascreen (Dolby Atmos) theater in the Midwest but didn't find it as entertaining as the first Avengers movie.

Nonetheless I'll likely add it to my Blu-ray collection when available.
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post #7 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 07:10 AM
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We're heading out to San Antonio today and I have tickets for the showing at The Palladium IMAX. It's a 65 ft. AVX screen with Atmos and a new Barco DP4k-60L 4k laser. In 2D!!


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post #8 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 07:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post
I was hoping the release would be in 2D, but my online research indicates it's 3D in some theaters, which probably includes the Dolby Cinema and Imax LIP locations. That makes sense, since both systems tout their 3D capabilities, but it's a major disappointment to me.
I can't agree with this enough. At this point I'm willing to pay a premium to get the immersive screen and high end sound with NO 3D!
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post #9 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 08:14 AM
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I hope they release the new Star Wars in 2D on these new projectors and audio systems and not just 3D. I don't mind 3D, but it's simply not suited for SW.
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post #10 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by dargo View Post
I saw the movie in two theaters as well one was IMAX 3D and the other Dolby Atmos. IMAX has lost a lot of it's panache for me this was at a "Rave" theater here in the midwest and the picture was dim, being a former manager/projectionist I'd hope the days of saving blub life had gone away. Sound was ok there was one moment during the film which had a major sound "event" other than that it was not what I would call loud for a action movie. The second theater was Emagine Entertainment theater oodly they only ran the Dolby Atmos version at 10:00am or 5:00pm but at $6 it was a real bargain! Dolby sound was very enjoyable, it was my first time hearing it on recommendation of Scott. The preview of Batman V. Superman was epic! among the best sound I've heard just on that demo alone I want to upgrade my system. Although the Dolby Atmos theater is a hour round trip for me it wins hands down over IMAX it's Dolby Atmos for me. Avengers Age of Ultron was very good, I feel it leads up very well to Captain America Civil War next year. Now if I can just find some Atmos speakers to go with my KEF Q900's I'll be set.
I am in a suburb of Detroit where I have access to an AMC theater with IMAX, or Emagine with their EMAX, which at the theater I go to has a larger screen than the AMC IMAX. Ever since Emagine unveiled Atmos surround about 18 months ago, that has been my first choice for movies. The Atmos as it is presented there is much more balanced and provides outstanding 3D audio surround. In comparison I find that IMAX at the local AMC theater to be a punishing wall of sound, with the majority of all sounds coming from the front of the theater, and very little discernable surround effects.
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post #11 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 10:05 AM
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nice job Scott!

by the way it was announced yesterday that the next Avengers movie (Infinity Wars- Parts 1 and 2) will be the first Hollywood feature film to be shot entirely in IMAX using IMAX and ARRI's next generation revolutionary 2D digital camera – a joint customized digital version of ARRI’s new large format Alexa 65
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Good read Mr. Wilkinson....thank you for your great sacrifice. ...Twice 'Avengers: Age of Ultron', and on the same day! ...Takes great addicted dedication to walk those sticky floors and work those neck's muscles, plus wearing those 3D glasses. ...The pain you had to endured is a testament to your fan's base.

I truly appreciate it because I have never been inside those theaters from your neighborhood. This is a great insight for people like me.
It makes me wanting a laser front projector for my own room @ my mansion. ...8K (some day) ... and 3D. ...With 3D sound of course (overhead sound effects).
...Object or channel based it don't matter, as long as it sounds immersive and enveloping from all directions and from above and from below too (tremors).

* $26 for a movie ticket with popcorn and drink is what it is everywhere when you go to the evening representations, and even @ home some 3D Blu-ray films they'll cost you up to twice that amount, and even more for some.
No wonder people like their Netflix for $7.99 a month.

Movie theaters, IMAX and all, is a tough business for true videophiles; it costs a lot to maintain a theater properly...comfort wise, visuals, proper light, sound, decors, seats, floor, bulbs, contrast ratio, dynamic range, right amount of subwoofers, balanced sound, right acoustics for all seats, clean/clear dialog, proper volume level for all viewers without annoying and rendering some front seat moviegoers deaf for life.

We take the experience outside @ those public venues and we apply our own comfort zone @ home. ...In our own home theater rooms.
We pick our own sound and our own size (screen display), and our own neck's exercising. ...Not exorcising.

Walking on sticky floors is not my idea of good entertainment, it deprives me of my relaxing state of concentrated mind.
And I don't want to hear babies crying and Androids and iPhones resonating in my ears.

You are a brave man Mr. Scott Wilkinson, and for that thank you again. ...You clear up the path ahead of us.
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post #13 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 11:26 AM
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Tomorrowland is not being shown in 3D at all to my knowledge. Whatever listings you were seeing are mistaken.
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post #14 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 12:24 PM
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I find 3D to be far better at home on my LG 84UB9800. I just watched Avengers A of U at my local IMAX in 3D, and while it looks good, I can discern the pixels in the image and the contrast is never as good as I see at home. LCD may not have Kuro blacks, but have we seen any real-world contrast numbers from our local theaters? I can always see the dark gray of the screen on a full black image in the theater - always, doesn't matter if it is IMAX or non-IMAX screens. And the 3D simply looks slightly soft, although I prefer IMAX 3D to RealD by a large margin. (RealD is very dim to me compared to IMAX). But before the new film, we watched the last Avengers movie as a group on my home screen, in 3D (as if we needed to refresh ourselves on the deep plot of this franchise). Without exception, our group of 6 all felt that the image quality on my 84 inch Ultra HD with passive 3D completely trounced the in-theater experience. Perfectly sharp, vivid, ghost free and easy on the eyes.

I think for now on, I will only view 2D at the theater and save 3D for the blu-ray release at home, to make the 2nd viewing new and different. (and blur-free)
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post #15 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 12:44 PM
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I couldn't wait for our IMAX to open 2 years ago. I was at the opening and saw Superman. Not a very good movie. I've only seen one other IMAX movie since. Not because it was a bad experience, but because the movies at the IMAX are all either sci-fi, or super-hero, or shoot-em up, with no plot, crap full of cartoons (special effects).

I don't see that changing anytime soon, because these are the movies that are the box office superstars.
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post #16 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 12:47 PM
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With so much variation in both picture and sound quality from theater to theater, how valid is the voting of the academy awards? Or do they get a compressed download to view at home with who knows what for a system?
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post #17 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 01:23 PM
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Or do they get a compressed download to view at home with who knows what for a system?
That's probably the case!

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post #18 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 01:52 PM
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With so much variation in both picture and sound quality from theater to theater, how valid is the voting of the academy awards? Or do they get a compressed download to view at home with who knows what for a system?
Most Academy members are shipped DVD screeners to watch on their laptops. They aren't technologically sophisticated enough to do streaming.
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post #19 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 02:05 PM
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Most Academy members are shipped DVD screeners to watch on their laptops.
So that's how they vote for sound editing? From their laptop? Damn!

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post #20 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 02:20 PM
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So that's how they vote for sound editing? From their laptop? Damn!
The members in the technical branches may get special screenings in studio screening rooms.

I was referring to the general membership who vote in the big categories like Best Picture, acting, etc. They're sent DVDs, or even more likely crummy low-bit-rate DVD-Rs with copyright notices scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Quite a way to judge a movie.

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post #21 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 03:10 PM
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We're heading out to San Antonio today and I have tickets for the showing at The Palladium IMAX. It's a 65 ft. AVX screen with Atmos and a new Barco DP4k-60L 4k laser. In 2D!!

How would an IMAX certified auditorium have a Dolby Atmos sound system? I thought the best you could get was IMAX's 12 channel setup. Unless it's just the name of the theater.

Listen up, studios! Just say "NO" to DNR and EE!!
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I echo some others here, Scott. Very sorry you cannot get those five hours back. At least you were able to survive and deliver another stellar report. Seems like Atmos is still the preferred immersive audio format, especially when sound engineers actually use its benefits rather than delivering something really no better than a channel-based mix.

Thanks a bunch!

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post #23 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 03:26 PM
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So where was everybody at 4pm, probably over at the Arclight seeing the movie in the Cinerama dome. Much easier parking. Anyway...Thanks for the report Scott
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It's the stupid movies that usually get the gimmick treatments.
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post #25 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 03:35 PM - Thread Starter
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We're heading out to San Antonio today and I have tickets for the showing at The Palladium IMAX. It's a 65 ft. AVX screen with Atmos and a new Barco DP4k-60L 4k laser. In 2D!!
I know for a fact that no Imax theater has Dolby Atmos, only the Imax 6.0- or 12.1-channel sound system. And as far as I know, they would use only Imax-branded projectors, which do come from Barco, but Imax adds their own secret sauce. Still, it should be great; enjoy!

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post #26 of 51 Old 05-08-2015, 09:08 PM
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I know for a fact that no Imax theater has Dolby Atmos, only the Imax 6.0- or 12.1-channel sound system. And as far as I know, they would use only Imax-branded projectors, which do come from Barco, but Imax adds their own secret sauce. Still, it should be great; enjoy!

http://m.mysanantonio.com/business/article/Santikos-Palladium-IMAX-upgrades-sound-system-4062032.php


You're right. It's no longer Imax but they do have Atmos now. Apparently it was Imax/Atmos at one time. Possibly misprint.

Their website shows Imax but this one was AVX/Atmos(Santikos Palladium San Antonio)

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Where did that Ultron poster at the top come from?
That has to be literally the worst promo picture I have ever seen for a Marvel property.
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post #28 of 51 Old 05-09-2015, 06:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazarus Dark View Post
Where did that Ultron poster at the top come from?
That has to be literally the worst promo picture I have ever seen for a Marvel property.
Movie posters these days = botched up jobs made by graphic "artists", they learn how to give a photo the "movie poster look" then cut them and place them on an empty background. These guys went to school for this . With Photoshop and some creativity we can do wonders, it's a shame modern movie posters look so lame and lifeless. No to mention it's for one of the biggest blockbusters ever released.

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"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."- Victor Hugo.
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post #29 of 51 Old 05-09-2015, 07:11 AM
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I saw the movie at an IMAX theater... I found the movie to be quite average, but it was definitely loud. Nothing to write home about.
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post #30 of 51 Old 05-09-2015, 08:36 AM
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But, most of us will wait until we can view in our own homes, where we have control of the volume, the eats, and the pauses for washroom respites.

Was I reading somewhere, where Dolby Atmos is now being replaced by Dolby-DC4?
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